Development of an Elastic Material Model for BCC Lattice Cell Structures Using Finite Element Analysis and Neural Networks Approaches

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Lattice cell structures (LCS) are being investigated for applications in sandwich composites. To obtain an optimized design, finite element analysis (FEA) -based computational approach can be used for detailed analyses of such structures, sometime at full scale. However, developing a large-scale model for a lattice-based structure is computationally expensive. If an equivalent solid FEA model can be developed using the equivalent solid mechanical properties of a lattice structure, the computational time will be greatly reduced. The main idea of this research is to develop a material model which is equivalent to the mechanical response of a lattice structure. In this study, the mechanical behavior of a body centered cubic (BCC) configuration under compression and within elastic limit is considered. First, the FEA approach and theoretical calculations are used on a single unit cell BCC for several cases (different strut diameters and cell sizes) to predict equivalent solid properties. The results are then used to develop a neural network (NN) model so that the equivalent solid properties of a BCC lattice of any configuration can be predicted. The input data of NN are bulk material properties and output data are equivalent solid mechanical properties. Two separate FEA models are then developed for samples under compression: one with 5 × 5 × 4 cell BCC and one completely solid with equivalent solid properties obtained from NN. In addition, 5 × 5 × 4 cell BCC LCS specimens are fabricated on a Fused Deposition Modeling uPrint SEplus 3D printer using Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and tested under compression. Experimental load-displacement behavior and the results obtained from both the FEA models are in good agreement within the elastic limit.